I laughed when I heard this on Saturday because I knew NBC would quickly turn around and issue an apology for something that really didn’t require an apology.
Arlo White and Lee Dixon, two British guys, were calling the Arsenal vs. Chelsea game when they began to discuss the chain-smoking habits of Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. At this point, it was a wide open, 2-2 game, and Sarri’s team had just conceded two goals to allow Arsenal to pull level.
“Many more games like this and he’ll be back on the fags again.”
That’s British slang for “cigarettes,” i.e., the guy is gonna need a smoke after this game because it’s been highly stressful.
Here’s the clip. Volume button in the lower left corner:
Obviously the American version of the word is considered homophobic and offensive, but Dixon is a 54-year-old retired Englishman. The word means something completely different over there.
So NBC probably just could have pulled him aside after the broadcast and said something like this:
“Lee, hey, it’s (random NBC executive) here, no big deal, but just so you know, that word has a different meaning to an American audience. Just try to stay away from using that in the future. Thanks, no worries. Great job as always.”
Instead, they had White explain what happened and then Dixon apologized:
— Kieran Beckles (@kieranbeckles) August 18, 2018
“…we used a British term for cigarette. It’s very familiar in the UK – sometimes these things are lost in translation. We meant absolutely no offense.”
Yep. That’s about it. Carry on.
Maybe NBC was just trying to get out in front of this thing before the PC hordes got a hold of it. But based on context and colloquialism, there’s nothing offensive about what he said.